Tech Tuesday – Using Transcript for Transcribing Documents

Posted on October 18, 2016 in Tech Tuesday

Transcript a little tool, developed by Jacob Boerema, that helps you transcribe text from digital media. Back in 2011, I had just accepted a job to transcribe 52 early deeds so I began looking for something that might make the job, if not easy, at least easier—and I discovered Transcript.

I really love this little gem. I was scanning the deeds in as both TIF and PDF images and Transcript could open both. I could make the image fairly large and even magnify a letter, if needed. The software allowed me to take my transcribed file (in RTF format) and open in MS Word or any other text editor that supports RTF to finish it. Transcript has too many features to enumerate here but the website has all the details.

The current version offers two editions: Basic, which is free for personal use only, and Pro, which costs 15 Euros (~ $27.17 USD) for all other usages. Once I found out that it really increased my productivity, I purchased the Pro version since I was using it for commercial not personal use.

Transcript is for Windows but supposedly will work on a MacBook Air running Crossover; also on Macs running Wine or Parallels. Now what I would like to do is show you the before and after of one of the deeds I transcribed using this product. The following is an image of the document I received.

Copy of Frederick Co., MD court recording of original land grant for Beaver Dam Levell

Copy of Frederick Co., MD court recording of original land grant for Beaver Dam Levell


And this is an image of the its final transcription. The original document was transcribed using Transcript, saved in RTF format, then opened in Word where all the fancy finishing touches were applied.

Transcription of the Beaver Dam Levell grant shown above

Transcription of the Beaver Dam Levell grant shown above



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Genealogy at the Library – Online!

Posted on October 11, 2016 in Maryland Research Tips

In Maryland there are twenty-four public library systems, one in each county and Baltimore City. All of these libraries offer wireless access, public use computers, research databases, and access to Sailor.


Sailor is an online public information network that connects Marylanders and their libraries to resources within the state. It is available free through every library and from home computers with Internet access. Of interest to genealogists, Sailor provides access to HeritageQuest Online, databases that provide indexed, digital documents for tracing your family history; and to the History Reference Center, a collection of historical documents, biographies, reference books, photos, maps and historical videos. A valid Maryland library card is required to access these resources.

In addition to Sailor, many individual county and city libraries subscribe to additional databases available only from their site. Some of these research databases can be accessed only by going to your local library; others can be accessed online from your home.

Most of the county libraries and that of Baltimore City provide onsite only access to the library edition of Some examples of the different databases offered by some libraries are:

  • Carroll County Public Library offers searchable access to the Carroll County Times from 1933 through 2014 from home or onsite.
  • Enoch Pratt free Library (Baltimore City) offers: America’s Obituaries and Death Notices, the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI), and the Sanborn Maps (Digital) – Maryland, which can all be accessed either onsite or from home.
  • Searchable editions of the Baltimore Sun from 1837 to 1990 are offered by Enoch Pratt and Baltimore County libraries, again searchable from home.

The above selection of databases are just examples. Some of these databases may also be offered in other counties along with databases not listed here.

You may ask “why do I care what databases are held in other library systems in Maryland, when I live, for example, in Carroll County?” Maryland residents may register with and borrow materials from any public library in the State. This is a great benefit to residents of Maryland. With authorization to other library systems, you can access databases that your local library does not have.

I currently have access to Carroll County, Baltimore County and Enoch Pratt library systems. Here is what I had to do to get authorized to access Baltimore County and Enoch Pratt. First, to access databases from other library systems, you must have a valid library card from one of the library systems. I already had my Carroll County card. You then go, in person, to a branch of the library that you wish to get access. They will authorize your current card to access to their system.

In Baltimore County, I had to create an account online to access their databases. For Carroll and Pratt, I had to get a password authorized and then I can use the barcode from my library card and the password to access the information. I would imagine that each library system has similar requirements. Enoch Pratt requires me to show up in person once a year to renew my authorization. Out-of-state residents can acquire a Maryland library card by paying an annual fee. Many of the local library systems issue out-of-state library cards.

While this post focuses on Maryland, I am sure other states must offer similar opportunities. Are you taking advantage of the online research databases offered by your local library?

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Family Recipe Friday – Alberta Zebley’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted on October 7, 2016 in Family Recipes, Uncategorized

My best friend in high school, Alberta Zebley, taught me to make these cookies. Her mom taught her. We used to make them together all the time in the kitchen of her home. I hung out there quite a bit and her family was lovely to me. After graduation, we lost touch, but I still make these cookies. My husband loves them, too.

This recipe makes around 4 dozen cookies, depending upon their size.

Alberta Zebley’s Chocolate Chip Cookies



1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 whole egg, large
2 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix butter, brown sugar and egg. Stir in biscuit mix, nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake about 10 minutes until lightly browned.


Posted in Family Recipes, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Genealogy Mysteries 2016 – The Latest Discoveries

Posted on September 29, 2016 in Genealogy Mysteries

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the-spyglass-fileOn September 1, 2016, Nathan Dylan Goodwin released his latest Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist book, The Spyglass File. In this, his fourth book, a new case plunges us into the middle of the Battle of Britain. Between his approaching nuptials and his personal research for his biological father, he must focus on the case, which is connected to a secret document from WWII known as the Spyglass File. Definitely a page turner and the best Morton Farrier yet.

Since initial posts on this topic over the years, I have been accumulating and reading new books, authors, and series in this sub-genre. It seems this sub-genre is really taking off. For those of you who also enjoy genealogy and reading mysteries, this is my comprehensive list of all genealogy mysteries that I have discovered to date and contains any new books I have discovered since I published this post in March 2016.

The Latest Discoveries

A new series from Cynthia Raleigh featuring amateur genealogist, Perri Seamore.

• Poison Branches (2016) – Kindle
• Buried Roots (2016) – Kindle

Another new series features a family tree full of witches, some ghosts, and the occult, with Anna Denning, a professional genealogist determined to find the truth.

• The Witch Tree (2011) – Kindle
• Sparrow House (2012) – Kindle
• The Sacrifice (2014) – Kindle
• The Club (2015) – Kindle

The Irish Inheritance is the first of a new series by M J Lee, starring former police detective now genealogical investigator, Jayne Sinclair. It takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence. Kindle edition

Series Family History Mysteries

The Nick Herald series by Jimmy Fox features a professional genealogist in New Orleans, Louisiana

• Deadly Pedigree (2001) – Kindle
• Lineages and Lies (2002) – Kindle
• Jackpot Blood (2014) – Kindle

The Danny O’Flaherty series by Jonathan Harrington stars an American teacher researching his family’s roots in Ireland and New York City.

• The Death of Cousin Rose (1996) – Paperback
• The Second Sorrowful Mystery (1999) – Paperback
• A Great Day for Dying (2001) – Paperback

The Lottie Albright series by Charlotte Hinger features a historian and editor for the county historical society in a small town in Western Kansas.

• Deadly Descent (2009) – Kindle
• Lethal Lineage (2011) – Kindle
• Hidden Heritage (2013) – Kindle

The Demary Jones series by E. L. Larkin (deceased) is set in Seattle, Washington, with Demary as the owner of Confidential Research, specializing in genealogy and historical research.

• Hear My Cry (1997) – Hardcover
• Hear Me Die (1998) – Hardcover
• Die and Die (1998) – Paperback
• Dead Men Die (1999) – Hardcover
• The Swallow Murders (1999) – Hardcover
• Die in Texas (2002) – Hardcover

Victory (Torie) O’Shea, a genealogist in New Kassel, Missouri, is ably portrayed in a series by Rett MacPherson. Now all available in Kindle editions.

• Family Skeletons (2014) – Kindle
• A Veiled Antiquity (2013) – Kindle
• A Comedy of Heirs (2014) – Kindle
• A Misty Mourning (2000) – Kindle
• Killing Cousins (2002) – Kindle
• Blood Relations (2014) – Kindle
• In Sheep’s Clothing (2014) – Kindle
• Thicker Than Water (2005) – Kindle
• Dead Man Running (2006) – Kindle
• Died in the Wool (2014) – Kindle
• The Blood Ballad (2014) – Kindle

Natasha Blake, a genealogist in the Cotswolds in England appears in the series by Fiona Mountain.

• Pale as the Dead (2004) – Kindle
• Bloodline (2015) – Kindle

Fay Sampson is the author of the Suzie Fewings books a series about a genealogist discovering interesting secrets in her family history in England.

• In the Blood (2009) – Paperback
• A Malignant House (2010) – Paperback
• Those in Peril (2010) – Paperback
• Father Unknown (2011) – Kindle
• The Overlooker (2012) – Kindle
• Beneath the Soil (2014) – Kindle

The Family Tree mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle feature Katherine Murray as an amateur genealogist who finds strange events in the past.

• Death on the Family Tree (2007) – Kindle
• Sins of the Fathers (2007) – Paperback
• Daughter of Deceit (2008) – Kindle

Mort Sinclair, a respected genealogist and lawyer on Fogge Island off the New England coast, stars in a series by Gene Stratton. Gene Stratton, a much-traveled former CIA case officer, is a well-known genealogist who has had two prior books published: Plymouth Colony and Applied Genealogy.

• Killing Cousins (1999) – Hardcover
• Cornish Conundrum (2000) – Kindle

The Nigel Barnes series by Dan Waddell concerns a professional genealogist who assists the police, mainly Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster in London, England.

• The Blood Detective (2008) – Hardcover
• Blood Atonement (2009) – Hardcover

The Jefferson Tayte mysteries by Steve Robinson feature a professional genealogist who ferrets out family secrets and old mysteries using genealogy research primarily in the UK. This series is a page-turner and keeps getting better and better.

• In the Blood (2011) – Kindle
• To the Grave (2012) – Kindle
• The Last Queen of England (2012) – Kindle
• The Lost Empress (2014) – Kindle
• Kindred (2016) – Kindle

Patrick Day’s new series starring Anna Fitzgerald, a career detective with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division, who becomes entangled with genealogy to trace old coins in this first book of the series.

• Murders and Genealogy in Hennepin County (2012) – Kindle

Simon Shaw, professor of history and “forensic historian” in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a series by Sarah R. Shaber, uses his expertise in historical and genealogical research to help solve murders that have their roots in the past.

• Simon Said (1997) – Kindle
• Snipe Hunt (2000) – Kindle
• The Fugitive King (2002) – Kindle
• The Bug Funeral (2004) – Kindle
• Shell Game (2007) – Kindle

The Alex & Briggie mysteries by G. G. Vandagriff, team up a spunky young widow and her rifle-toting grandmother, who run a genealogy research business called RootSearch, Inc. that seems to specialize in solving murders.

• Cankered Roots (2011) – Kindle
• Of Deadly Descent (2011) – Kindle
• Tangled Roots (2011) – Kindle
• Poisoned Pedigree (2012) – Kindle
• The Hidden Branch (2011) – Kindle

In the Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, we discover a stubborn, determined man who uses whatever means necessary to uncover the past. Great start of a new series.

• Hiding the Past (2013) – Kindle
• The Lost Ancestor (2014) – Kindle
• The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier novella (2014) – Kindle
• The America Ground (2015) – Kindle
• The Spyglass File (2016) – Kindle

These books by John Nixon star family historian, Madeleine Porter. While not mysteries as we think of them, they take us through the experiences of our amateur “detectives” unraveling the “mysteries” that surround them.

• Family Shadows (2014) – Kindle
• The Cuckoo Clock (2014) – Kindle
• Stolen Futures (2014) – Kindle
• Another Summer (2014) – Kindle
• The Cost of Silence (2015) – Kindle

The Museum Mysteries by Sheila Connolly star Nell Pratt, president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society (think Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia) who spends much of her time solving murders through research in their collections. These books are fascinating for their mysteries, their history, and our glimpses into the lives of the archivists. Highly recommended.

• Fundraising the Dead (2010) – Kindle
• Let’s Play Dead (2011) – Kindle
• Fire Engine Dead (2012) – Kindle
• Monument to the Dead (2013) – Kindle
• Razing the Dead (2014) – Kindle
• Privy to the Dead (2015) – Kindle
• Dead End Street (2016) – Kindle

In the Family History Mysteries by Brynn Bonner, genealogist Sophreena McClure is an expert at unearthing other people’s secrets. Using old documents and photographs, Soph and her business partner, Esme Sabatier—also a gifted medium—trace family histories and create heritage scrapbooks.

• Paging the Dead (2013) – Kindle
• Death in Reel Time (2014) – Kindle
• Picture Them Dead (2015) – Kindle
• Dead in a Flash (2016) – Kindle

Geraldine Wall writes about probate researcher Anna Ames in this trilogy. These are mystery thrillers and we are drawn in to Anna’s family, life and work.

• File Under Fear (2014) – Kindle
• File Under Family (2014) – Kindle
• File Under Fidelity (2015) – Kindle

This is the first book in a supernatural genealogy detective series called Maze Investigations by M.K. Jones featuring Maggie Gilbert, set in Newport, South Wales, drawing on real historical details.

• Three Times Removed (2015) – Kindle

If you like your genealogy mysteries with a little humor, see the series starring Ben Bones, Genealogical Consultant and self-described Articulator of Family Skeletons written by Michael Havelin.

• Ben Bones and The Galleon of Gold (2013) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Search for Paneta’s Crown (2012) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Deadly Descendants (2013) – Kindle
• Ben Bones and the Conventional Murders (2015) – Kindle

Esme Quentin solves mysteries using genealogy in the West Midlands and in Devon in the books by Wendy Percival.

• Blood-Tied (2013) – Kindle
• The Indelible Stain (2014) – Kindle

Non-Series Family History Mysteries

Thomas McKerley and Ingrid Schippers, in their first genealogy mystery, Bloodlines – Touch Not the Cat (2012), introduce Cathy Macpherson, who uncovers her own and her husband’s past. Hope this becomes a series. Kindle edition.

The Marriage Certificate by Stephen Molineux (2013) stars Peter Sefton, amateur family historian. Not quite a mystery but certainly a detective story. Kindle edition.

In Silent Legacy: Discovering Family Secrets by Diana Church (2014) some German immigration history with new finds from a research trip helps Ellen O’Donnell solve a long-standing family mystery. Kindle edition.

In Finding Eliza by Stephanie Pitcher Fishman (2014), an old diary leads Lizzie Clydell down a dusty road of lies, hidden family secrets, and a lynching that nearly destroyed her family. I loved the quote “It’s just a little family history. What could go wrong?” Kindle edition.

Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller by Gearoid O’Neary (2013) is based upon real life historical events. The story unravels as Irish genealogist, Jed, researches his client’s mysterious maternal ancestry. Kindle edition.

Benjamin’s Ghosts: An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia A. Nash (2014) is a cozy genealogy murder mystery set in West Tennessee. This is the start of a promising series. I hope we hear more from this author. Kindle edition.

In the Tainted Tree by Jacquelynn Luben (2013), Addie Russell inherits a house in Surrey and begins researching her English family Her research takes her back three generations to the First World War.

A century-old key may unlock the ancestral secrets of four families in The Fourth Descendant by Allison Maruska (2015).

While not a series, these genealogical mysteries by Norma Elizabeth Rawlings focus on how researching their ancestors became a life changing experience for each central character.

• Sleeping Dogs (2012) – Kindle
• Sleeping Dogs II (2013) – Kindle
• Malvern Murders (2013) – Kindle
• In the Genes (2013) – Kindle

Package from The Past by Jacqueline Opresnik is a search for a missing heir and family fortune set against the historical events of the Boer War and World War II.

Of course, for non-fiction fans there is Only A Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath by John Philip Colletta. This is an outstanding read.

All of the books mentioned here are available in the editions specified and can be found at Many of the Kindle editions are also available in paperback and/or hardcover.

If I’ve missed any of your favorites, please let me know in the comments. I am trying to make this list as complete as possible.

In 2012, I published my first Genealogy Mysteries post, which was titled Genealogy Mysteries. It provided a summary of the genealogy mysteries I discovered at that time. In 2014, I published Genealogy Mysteries – Expanded and in 2015, I published Genealogy Mysteries – Expanded and Updated and More Genealogy Mysteries. All books mentioned in these posts are now consolidated within the current post.

Posted in Genealogy Mysteries | 2 Comments

Finding Victor’s Father: Completing the Story

Posted on September 23, 2016 in Family Stories

In my earlier blog post “52 Ancestors: #8 Who Is Victor Bianchi”, I told the story of the young boy who appeared in my great-grandmother’s household in the 1910 US census. I told of my searches through the records, my proof argument that he was the son of her daughter, Mary Bianchi, and the final evidence confirming my answer in the following obituary.

An obituary in the Mount Carmel News Item, dated 12/13/2006, reports the death of Victor Bianchi at the age of 98. A copy of this article says it all:

“KULPMONT — Victor F. Bianchi, formerly of 26 Second St., Strong, passed peacefully at the age of 98 on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Serenity Gardens, where he was a guest the past four years.

He was born in Atlas on Oct. 19, 1908, and was a son of the late Mary Bianchi. He was a lifelong resident of Strong and was employed as a miner and steel worker.

He was married July 4, 1932, in St. Patrick’s Church in Philadelphia to the former Mary E. Pollock, who preceded him in death on March 22, 2005.

He was a member of Divine Redeemer Church in Mount Carmel, and formerly a member of St. Paul’s Chapel in Atlas.”

But does it really tell it all. After all, who was Victor’s father? I was telling the story of Victor to a friend of mine the other day. As I mentioned to her that Victor was born in 1908 and my great-grandfather had died in 1906, a light went on. I know that Ancestry has the Pennsylvania Birth Records from 1906 through 1908 online.

I wondered if it could be possible…

I found Victor’s birth certificate in this collection and, sure enough, it listed his mother as Mary Bianchi and his father as Albano Burrotti, age 23, born in Austria. YES!, Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1908 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2015),,, Record for Victor Beanci., Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1908(database online. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015 (,, accessed 17 September 2016). Record for Victor Bianci.


A search on Ancestry has turned up nothing more on Albano. His residence is listed as Austria so he may have been just visiting, but I could not find a passport. Also, his name could really undergo some significant misspellings in the records. Most men in this township were coal miners so Albano may have moved to another county where the mines were hiring. Many of the men listing Austria as their place of birth in this township came from the Tyrol, with the bulk arriving between 1880 and 1915. Albano may have arrived and left – all within the period between the 1900 and 1910 US censuses. Still looking.



Posted in Family Stories | 4 Comments

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday – Who Are These Women?

Posted on September 14, 2016 in Wordless Wednesday

I am using this theme primarily to post my mystery photos in hopes that someday I’ll be able to solve them.


This photo was unidentified and in the box of photos that my sisters and I inherited from our mother.

The two women may be from my Meisberger, Gunther or Bianchi lines. My feeling is that their birth surname may be Gunther. In fact, the woman on the right looks something like my grandmother, Lorraine Gunther Noble, when she was younger, as seen in other photos. It was likely taken in Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

I believe the photo may have been taken during the 1920s and possibly inside a home, if that is a fireplace behind them. There appear to be boxes or books sitting on the mantle. At the same time, the walls could be exterior, so the entire scene may be outside a house, so is that a window, a fireplace or a doorway? I am intrigued by the metal device that is seen to the right in the photo. I have no clue what that is.

I wonder what they were dressed for? Was dressing up like a married couple popular in the 1920s? Maybe they were putting on a play. Living in the coal mining region of Northumberland County, there may not have been too much opportunity for the families of coal miners to afford professional entertainment.

My last question is whether the photo was professionally done or just a box camera snapshot.  Maybe one of the family was an amateur photographer. I don’t feel that this was a commercial product but I could be wrong.

I am open to any information or corrections concerning this photo. I would love to be able to put names to their faces and to better understand this photo. Please help me give them names.

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Society Saturday – Maryland Land Records

Posted on September 10, 2016 in Society Saturday

ccgslogocolorvsmallThe Carroll County Genealogical Society’s upcoming meeting on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.* features Rachel Frazier. Ms. Frazier currently serves as the Search Room Coordinator for the Reference Department at the Maryland State Archives, daily assisting patrons in-person and remotely with historical and legal research.

Rachel will be presenting Maryland Land Records. This presentation will teach you how to locate different types of land records, trace the history of land, and discover genealogical information using Maryland Land Records Online (

Meetings of the Carroll County Genealogical Society (CCGS) are held the third Monday of each month, March through May and September through November, at 7:30 p.m.* in the Dixon Room, Westminster Library at 50 East Main Street, Westminster.

Please come to our meeting and bring a friend. You will meet other folks interested in family research and genealogy and enjoy delightful talks that may help you in your own research.  I look forward to seeing new faces!

You can also come early and take advantage of our large collection of books and other materials housed at the Westminster Branch of the CCPL.  On Thursday afternoons, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., one or more society volunteers will be on hand to assist researchers. Of course, this collection is available to all anytime the library is open.

 *Refreshments are available at 7:00 p.m. and the meetings are free and open to the public.

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza

CCGS Genealogical Section at the Westminster Branch Library. Photo copyright by Eileen Souza



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DNA and Me – My Final Ethnicity Test (Maybe)

Posted on September 8, 2016 in Genealogy DNA

Since the new FDA rulings, I was finally able to test my DNA at 23andme. My previous posts on this topic were DNA and Me, which covered my ethnicity tests at Family Tree DNA; followed by DNA and Me – Updated, in which I wrote about my AncestryDNA ethnicity tests.

In general, I was disappointed at my 23andme results. I’m not fond of all those separate reports. It makes it difficult to find anything and when you do, the report doesn’t really tell you much. But this post is about the ethnicity tests.

I have read that 23andme is either the most accurate reporting or the most speculative reporting of ethnicity. In her blog post, Those percentages, if you must, Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, talked about the confidence reporting levels at 23andme. Thank you, Judy.

When I viewed my report, because of her post, I now knew that the confidence level I was looking at was 50%. Here are my results at this percentage.

My results from 23andme at the 50% confidence level

My results from 23andme at the 50% confidence level

My mother’s paternal line is Irish all the way back to Ireland and her maternal line is German as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries (I have traced some of them back to 1680). My father’s paternal line is Tyrolean (his father) from the section now in Italy, and his maternal line is Italian (his grandfather) and Bohemian (his grandmother), although she may be German Bohemian.

I consider these values generally in line with my own research results, although I would have thought that the Southern European figures would be higher. I have a mini project in mind where I want to record the results from all three companies on a spreadsheet–just for kicks. If do, I’ll probably do a post on it.

I think my real surprise was when I followed Judy’s directions and changed the confidence reporting level to 80%. Here is my report of those results.

My results from 23andme at the 80% confidence level

My results from 23andme at the 80% confidence level

My British & Irish went from 23.1% to 8.0%; my French & German went from 27.1% to 2.8%, while my Italian went from 5.1% to 0.4%. Just think what the 100% confidence reporting level might look like.

But I don’t necessarily believe that this makes 23andme the most speculative. Who knows what would happen to the numbers on the other two sites, if they offered the ability to change confidence reporting levels.

It will be interesting to see how these projections evolve on all three sites as the science improves and the collected data increases.



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Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey – Part 8

Posted on August 30, 2016 in Professional Genealogist

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The final post in this series ends with a brief discussion of some unexpected purchases triggered by the business decisions I made in this start up. The purchases were mostly technical and equipment.

First financial. I had been using Quicken Deluxe for many, many years to maintain our family finances and using Turbo Tax to do our family income tax. Since I planned to have the accountant do the taxes, I no longer needed to acquire Turbo Tax. That was easy. Then I panicked. I knew my son used QuickBooks for his small business and I thought that I would need to buy that and make the investment in its large learning curve.

I found that Quicken offered a less expensive product called Quicken Home and Business. I compared that to QuickBooks and found the big difference is that QuickBooks did payroll, something I did not need. I ordered the Quicken Home and Business software. Upon installing, I discovered that the Home portion was exactly the same as what I was used to and the Business portion was fairly straightforward, although there was some learning curve associated with it. I have been happily using it ever since.

Next, I realized that I hadn’t addressed storage for supplies and client work. For my solution, based on room size and existing furniture, I selected a 5-drawer file cabinet, since I had more up space. Snuggled next to the end of my desk, it also provides me a magnetic surface with quick and easy access.

I already owned two bookcases, a large computer desk that held my desktop (on a wheeled trolley under the desk), my all-in-one printer (on a raised shelf on the desk), and a large format scanner. I felt that I was in good shape for the office with the addition of the new filing cabinet. My decision to begin giving local lectures did generate some other purchases.

My primary focus on my lecture equipment was weight and price. I wanted all of these items to be lightweight, since I needed to carry them around with me. I cart the equipment around nicely packed in a rolling backpack with a laptop sleeve that I bought at eBags.

My initial purchase was a light (for that time period) 14” laptop. The screen size was my compromise since larger screens caused the laptop to weigh more. Its size would allow me to slide this laptop in my tote easily to take to archives and libraries for research. As it had both a VGA and HDMI video connector, it would also be great for driving the projector.

Many of the places where I planned to speak either did not have a projector or the one they had didn’t work. My next purchase was an Acer projector—very lightweight. My final purchase was a Hisonic portable PA system. This system was both lightweight and inexpensive. It came with a built-in handheld mic, and wireless headset and button mic for under $180. The best news was that it actually sounds good. I do not know if it would work in a really large room, but it works perfectly fine in all my local venues. I purchased the PA system in 2010 and I’m still using it. I noticed Amazon is still selling this model and a later one, both less than what I paid.

This post concludes my startup journey as a professional genealogist. The trip acquainted me with genealogy education, selecting a startup team, business planning, branding and networking, lecturing and volunteering, trade shows and business supplies. The earlier seven posts in this series are listed below. I am happy I took the plunge and look forward to what I hope to be a long ongoing journey.


See the earlier posts in this series:

Introduction-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 1

Education-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 2

Startup Team-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 3

Business Planning-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 4

Branding & Networking–Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 5

Lecturing & Volunteering–Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 6

Trade Shows-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey-Part 7



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Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey – Part 7

Posted on August 24, 2016 in Professional Genealogist
Figure 1.  The vendor table of Old Bones Genealogy, LLC at the 2013 South Carroll Business Association Community Expo in Eldersburg, Maryland.

Figure 1. The vendor table of Old Bones Genealogy, LLC at the 2013 South Carroll Business Association Community Expo in Eldersburg, Maryland.

To wrap up marketing, I need to discuss trade shows. I discovered our local trade shows as a member of the South Carroll Business Association (SCBA). The SCBA Expo was held annually in the Spring. I found the pricing reasonable and members got an early bird discount. I decided to try it out to see if it was an effective marketing strategy.

I learned about it too late for 2012 so my first show was the SCBA 2013 Expo. I planned for my banner so it would be ready in time for the show. For my first table, I stole the mantle scarf from my fireplace and purchased a large tablecloth to place under it. I’ve received so many compliments on this retro look that I now use it in all my shows. For my display, I included my business cards, brochures, sample fancy pedigree charts, sample of my work, and old photos. I added a guest sign-in sheet. To encourage people to come to my table, I developed a slide show, running it continuously on my laptop.

Well, we were in a big gym in a local high school, there was not a huge turnout and my table was next to an exit door. I had only a couple of visitors and no one signed my guestbook. Another great learning experience. Afterward, many of the vendors gave me good advice that I took to heart and used in future shows. My budget only allowed one show this year.

Figure 2.  My most recent show the SCBA 2016 Expo, held in Eldersburg, Maryland.

Figure 2. My most recent show the SCBA 2016 Expo, held in Eldersburg, Maryland.

While maintaining the basic display, over the years, I added many items suggested by my fellow vendors. The first suggestion I received and implemented was to hold a drawing. Apparently, visitors tend not to sign the guest sign-in sheet but they will fill out entries to win a prize. So now I need to decide what prize to give. I thought about gift cards to restaurants or electric gadgets; but, I finally decided upon a gift certificate for family research. I now award a gift certificate worth three (3) hours of my time to the winner. This has been very popular–this year my big fish bowl was completely filled.

Each successive year added another feature to my display.  I supplemented the display with free candy and free company pens, also very popular. I had also learned how to position my table better. It is all in who you know. In 2016 my table was against a well-lit wall and in direct view of the main entrance—right on the traffic path. I have been informed that I need to add balloons to attract visitors to the table. So far, I have held off since I think it would spoil the look, but who knows…

As to whether trade shows are an effective marketing strategy, the jury is still out. I have noticed that in this profession it can take a long time for a lead to develop into a client. I just added a client this year that attended one of my early lectures four years ago.

With this post, my marketing journey ends.  My next and final topic, technical, concludes my early trip on what I hope to be an ongoing journey.

See the earlier posts in this series:
Introduction-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 1
Education-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 2
Startup Team-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 3
Business Planning-Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 4
Branding & Networking–Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 5
Lecturing & Volunteering–Becoming a Professional Genealogist: My Journey–Part 6




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